Single-use Plastic is Killing Us

3-minute read

Oh great! Look at all the ways we ingest plastic.

Denial is a frighteningly strong phenomenon. It has the ability to blind us from the obvious and shield us from what is truly terrifying – like how single-use plastic is killing us.

As a commissioner of my local Environmental Enhancement Commission, I thought I had the leg up on everything eco.

“I know that I know nothing.”

– Socratic paradox

I quickly learned that being an EE commissioner has not, in fact, allowed me the divine gift of instantly downloaded eco-centric knowledge, but what it has allowed is the privilege of responsibility. Local citizens are asking me and my fellow commissioners the questions that need to be asked. A particularly important one for residents is:

What and what is not recyclable?

This has forced me to go to the experts: Waste disposal services. It was from speaking to one that I learned this fact that jarringly pulled the cozy green wool from my eyes:

“Recycle” actually means, “Export to China.”

Excuse me?

According to NPR, “Some 106 million metric tons — about 45 percent — of the world’s plastics set for recycling have been exported to China since reporting to the United Nations Comtrade Database began in 1992.

But in 2017, China passed the National Sword policy banning plastic waste from being imported — for the protection of the environment and people’s health — beginning in January 2018.

Now that China won’t take it, what’s happening to the leftover waste?

According to the authors of a new study, it’s piling up.”

Okay, so you’ve heard all the scary facts on single-use plastic like bottled water, straws, or shopping bags. We’re filling up landfills, clogging up the ocean, “blah blah blah,” right? But we don’t see it. It’s not directly affecting us, right? Wrong.

How about the idea that because we’re producing and using so much plastic, we’re literally ingesting plastic? 😱 (Gross!)

That’s a sobering fact that The Dieline founder, Andrew Gibbs, relayed during his HOW Design Live session, A Plastic-Free Future.

Andrew Gibbs, founder of The Dieline, at his keynote session at HOW Design Live 2019.
Not even this classic gif of Jesse Pinkman could distract us from this disturbing fact.
What do you mean, “IF EVER”? Yikes.
Yes, this will solve everything.
[cringe]
We need REAL solutions that go beyond a bandage.
The solution is obvious. No more single-use plastic!

Brands and consumers alike, I encourage you to take steps to reduce single-plastic use where you can. Brands like Boxed Water and Cove (who uses the right kind of biodegradable plastic) are showing us you can. And anyone who uses glass has the right idea.

Dare to lead the future. If you’d like someone on your team to help you do that – whether it’s a brand refresh or an update on your packaging design, let’s work together.

Sources:

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2018/06/28/623972937/china-has-refused-to-recycle-the-wests-plastics-what-now

https://www.greenmatters.com/technology/2019/02/13/PEJke9lEz/cove-biodegradable-single-use-water-bottle

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